I’m writing from my mom’s place today. She’s having an anxious day and I’m keeping her company.
Today’s story is about my daughter, Jennifer.
Also, Noa Baum will be performing A Land Twice Promised at Richmond’s First Baptist Church May 2 as a part of our Hearts Afire Storytelling Series.
Click for tickets: https://hearts_afire_2020_noa_baum_a_land_twice_promised.eventbrite.com
You don’t want to miss this show or her workshop on using story to build community.
Remember: You Matter. Your Stories Matter. Tell Them Well!
The Storytellers Channel
Just one more time
I attended a private school from 3rd through 7th grades. Gill’s Country Day School was just that, a day school in the country. A half hour’s drive from home when my mom took me, but an hour and a half when I rode the school bus. The days were long. I’d be picked up at 7:30 in the morning and dropped off at 5:00. There were some positives to offset the commute. Smaller class size allowed the teachers to give us individual attention.
The school was situated between a lake and the woods and so even though we weren’t supposed to, we regularly explored the “country” surroundings in our gray flannel slacks and navy-blue blazers. Another unique feature was the stable. Horseback riding was something my mom was particularly excited about for me. As far as I was concerned, I thought she’d lost her mind. Those things were huge, and I have to tell you for all the times I was tackled by a linebacker it never hurt as much as hitting the ground falling off a 17-hand high horse. I switched to football in the 4th grade.
Fast forward 26 years. My daughter, Jennifer, was four and she must have overheard me talking about riding and she began to pester her mother and me about letting her ride. When she was six, we took her to Cedar Knoll Farm, and she took to riding like a horse to clover. When she was eight, she rode in her first horse show.
The parents lined the fence in their finery, watching with equal parts admiration and terror as their darlings bounced around the corral. I had come straight from work and stood there with the late afternoon son beating down on my navy-blue suit. It’s been over 30 years, but I can still see my little girl in her riding helmet sitting on her pony. She was so proud. Grinning from ear to ear, happy as could be.
Her time came and as she rode around the ring, I marveled at her comfort. She seemed so sure of her little self and then she made her first jump and the world slowed down.
She began to slide off the horse. All I could see was this slow journey to the ground and those pounding horse hooves. She hit the ground and bounced and lay there, flat and still.
I don’t remember jumping over the fence and rushing to her side, but her mother said I looked like an Olympian athlete. By the time I got to her she was gasping. The fall had knocked the wind out of her. As she lay there trying to get a breath she managed to get out, “I…don’t…want…to…do…this…any…more.”
As I stroked her and soothed her; I checked to assure myself nothing was broken. Eventually, I helped her up and said, “Honey, just get back on and ride around the ring once. And then we can go home and never come back here again.”
Well, up she went, with a little help, and around the ring she rode as everyone applauded. She’s been riding ever since.
I looked at the fence and then walked to the gate and let myself out. The time for vaulting fences having passed. My friend who ran the stable was upset with me for having gone into the ring, but I’m sure had it happened again, I would have probably reacted the same way.
Jen’s been riding for over 30 years now. She trains horses to the saddle and teaches people how to ride. She has suffered concussions, broken bones and had the wind knocked out of her more than once since that first show.
I am so thankful she got back on that horse that day. She has always been a model of courage and compassion. I think that’s a key to success in life. I think of that little girl whenever things are not going as planned and I remember her getting back on that horse. And I say to myself, “Just one more time.”
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Til next time,